29 August 1891, South Africa’s second rugby test ever, against Great Britain, played on the Eclectic cricket ground.
Pictured is the South African team for the second test as well as the kick-off of the game.
DID YOU KNOW
On Saturday 29 August 1891 the second rugby test between the British Isles (now the British and Irish Lions) was played on the Eclectic Cricket Club grounds in Kimberley. It was a victory for the British Isles, 3 points to nil. The Eclectic Cricket Club field (pictured) was where the Kimberley Regiment parade ground and Karen Muir swimming pool are today.
South Africa played in navy blue jerseys with a diamond on the front, while Great Britain played with red and white hooped jerseys. The field was a sand (dirt) track with no grass, a visitor calling it a “wretched pavement”.
BH Heatlie wrote that “In the second test match at Kimberley there were, if memory serves, ten local men in our team, a very fine Griqua record! We lost only by a drop goal from a mark to nil. I remember that mark well, as I had only just failed to tackle Mitchell before he made it just on our side of the halfway line. Maclagan went up to him to tell him what to do and he replied, ‘It’s all right Bill, I’ll drop a goal’ – and by Jove, he did, and won the match.”
The South Africans played like men possessed but could not cross the visitor’s line. Neither for that matter, did the British Isles cross the home team try line.
Not a bad score line when one remembers that South Africa played with 14 men most of the second half, Kimberley’s Wilfred Trenery having been stretchered off shortly after the re-start.
The South African team was selected by authorities at the venue where the internationals were played – namely Port Elizabeth, Kimberley and Cape Town.
Only five South Africans as a consequence played in all three internationals namely Ben Duff, JT (Chubb) Vigne, Alf Richards, Marthinus Versfeld and Japie Louw. South Africa also had a different captain in each test match: Herbert Castens in the 1st test; RC (Bob) Snedden 2nd test; and Alf Richards in the 3rd test.
The referee for the Kimberley game was the Griqualand West Union President, Paul Ross-Frames, destined to become the first South African Rugby Board President and later a De Beers Company Director.